Puppy dies on plane to his new California home. ‘I don’t know what to say to my kids’

Screengrab from KABC video

The Avetisian family in Pasadena, California, had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new 5-month-old puppy named Bear from friends in Greece, The Independent reported.

Then Air France-KLM called with bad news, KABC reported. The purebred Central Asian Shepherd died March 19 en route to Los Angeles International Airport in a cargo hold sometime during an 11-hour flight from Amsterdam, according to the TV station.

“I couldn’t go home that day,” said dad Andranik Avetisian, KCAL reported. “I don’t know what to say to my kids.”

The family friends in Athens who gave Bear to the Avetisians had been sending kids Alex and Ani regular updates with photos and videos of the puppy, KABC reported.

“We were waiting for months to get that puppy, and give him some love, my kids were waiting,” Andranik Avetisian said, according to the station. “I don’t know. It is very difficult. It is very hard for me.”

Air France-KLM released a statement saying the company takes “matters of animal welfare very seriously,” The Independent reported.

“KLM’s Cargo Department is in contact with the owner of the dog, and for reasons of customer confidentiality, we cannot release further details around the current investigation,” the statement read, according to the publication.

But Andranik Avetisian says the airline still hasn’t even let him view or retrieve Bear’s body, KCAL reported.

“I want to see the puppy. I asked them to see the puppy,” Andranik Avetisian said, according to the station. The family has hired an attorney, Evan Oshan, to look into Bear’s death.

“We want a criminal investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Bear,” Oshan said, KABC reported. “You don’t take someone’s property, someone’s family member, somebody’s pet and just keep it without any kind of explanation.”

In a previous statement, Air France-KLM said that it was awaiting a necropsy to determine Bear’s cause of death, USA Today reported.

The airline also defended its handling of the dog, saying Bear was “loaded correctly according KLM’s pet policy,” which requires larger pets to travel in a kennel in a ventilated section of the cargo hold, USA Today reported.

A German Shepherd was reunited with its family in Wichita after being mistakenly shipped to Japan on a United flight. The family was flying to Kansas City as they prepared to move to Wichita when they discovered their dog had not arrived.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.